SUBMITTED BY: Sara Weaver
Do you ever get that urge just to try something new? Sometimes life calls you to do something completely out of the ordinary and unexpected. Hang gliding at Kitty Hawk Kites definitely fits the bill for getting out of a rut, it’s endlessly fun, and it’s easily accessible, especially from the greater Raleigh-Durham area.
Kitty Hawk Kites isn’t your typical hang gliding school. Located in Jockey’s Ridge State Park and operating for almost 50 years, Kitty Hawk Kites is one of the most successful hang gliding schools in the world. Lessons take place atop sand dunes which stand 80 feet above the expansive beaches below. Nearby on the mainland, tandem flights up to a mile high teach students how to fly in one of the most scenic and safe locations in the United States.
An intro lesson begins on the dunes, beside the Atlantic Ocean and the Albemarle Sound. Looking over the water, students soar above the ground for the first time, gently landing in the sand after a thrilling flight. Instructors describe all the basics in detail – how to steer, how to fly fast and slow, how to relax and keep eyes on a target – all while catering to each student’s unique learning style. Early lessons aim to make students as comfortable as possible in the air while they discover if flying is something they want to pursue in more depth.
After the dunes, student pilots get their first taste of flying at altitude with a tandem instructor at the scenic Cotton Gin nearby. After towing up behind and releasing from an ultralight aircraft at 2000 or 5280 feet, students – with their instructors right there with them – get to experience the wonders of free flight thousands of feet above the ground, gracefully floating above the ocean and the countryside. Hang gliding is a relaxing, peaceful experience, but there’s still exhilarating options for students that want more excitement. Tandem instructors can take thrill seekers on a roller coaster ride, turning sharply and stall diving all the way down. The magic of Kitty Hawk Kites is that after taking lessons students can fly solo, choosing their own type of flying, be it relaxed or acrobatic.
Both hang gliding lessons play well into a weekend or week long getaway from the hustle and bustle of a busy life. Stay on the beach, fly twice a day, and enjoy the magic of North Carolina’s Outer Banks! It’s the perfect recipe for escaping the crazy schedule of everyday life and discovering something new and unique in a beautiful place.
Another reason why learning to fly hang gliders at Kitty Hawk Kites is because of the incredible local flying community. Nowhere else can you find so much joy and excitement for the beauty of flight. The instructors and local pilots are all at Jockey’s Ridge for one reason: to spread the stoke for flying, free of noisy engines. Everyone’s ultimate goal at Kitty Hawk Hang Gliding School is to make sure that every student has the flight of a lifetime, and to cultivate a deep joy in our ability to experience soaring without heavy machinery.
Kitty Hawk Kites wants to make it easy to learn how to fly, like they’ve done for nearly 50 years. Hang gliding might be an obscure sport, but it’s far more accessible than you might realize. Kitty Hawk Kites has all the gear necessary, from beginner to advanced hang gliders, harnesses and helmets. Instructors’ number 1 priority is safety, and learning how to fly has never been more fun. So here’s to trying new things, breaking free from everyday life, and enjoying this beautiful world from the sky.
We hope you’ll meet us on the dunes!